Liturgy

Absolution

At Strasbourg, Calvin used the following words of absolution in his French liturgy, which he composed working from Bucer’s German model:

Let each of you confess that you are truly a sinner who must humble himself before God and believe that the heavenly Father will be gracious to you in Jesus Christ. To all who have repentance and who seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, I pronounce forgiveness in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Thoughts on High Worship

High church worship (Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism) fail at the fundamental level of dualism. They pit the body against the soul; biblical, Reformed liturgical worship undoes the dualism in favor of a Psalmic-led life and liturgy where bodies are deeply involved. How is it possible to sing psalms and be dualistic? Sometimes those who come from places where liturgies and lives are abused tend to go to opposite extremes and not see the necessity of liturgical reformation in our churches. That worship is connected to dominion means precisely that a duality does not exist. Imprecation, calls for righteousness and justice in the midst of the sacred assembly are the very means by which Yahweh begins His work of renewal. All things flow from the assembly. Logically, following the pattern of Psalm 98: Worship (New Israel; garden); land, and world (ends of the earth).

Liturgical Distinctions between man and woman

Jim Jordan–as always–has a provocative thesis in his well-known article entitled Liturgical Man, Liturgical Woman. Jim’s thesis is that “the differences between men and women are, by creation design, fundamentally liturgical and only secondarily biological and psychological. To put it another way, my thesis is that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are grounded in their differing liturgical roles.”

Why do we go to Church?

I offered a few thoughts here last year.

What the Liturgy does…

Aidan Kavanaugh writes:

The Sunday liturgy of Christians addresses itself primarily to the object of the assembly’s ministry, the world. The Sunday liturgy is not the Church assembled to address itself. The liturgy thus does not cater to the assembly. It summons the assembly to enact itself publicly for the life of the world. Nor does this take place as a dialogue with the world, often a partner whose uninterested absence reduces the dialogue to an ecclesiastical monologue. The liturgy presumes that the world is always present in the summoned assembly, which although not of “this world” lives deep in its midst as the corporate agent, under God in Christ, of its salvation. In this view, the liturgical assembly IS the world being renovated according to the divine pleasure – not as patient being passively worked upon but as active agent faithfully cooperating in its rehabilitation. What one witnesses in the liturgy is the world being done as the world’s Creator and Redeemer will the world to be done. The liturgy does the world and does it at its very center, for it is here that the world’s malaise and its cure well up together, inextricably entwined.

My friend C. Frank Bernard responds:

The liturgy most certainly caters to the assembly. It is not merely a summons for the assembly to enact itself publicly for the life of the world. We are fed the Word and Communion as an assembled body while the world is fenced out. We are liturgically lifted up to heaven while the world is liturgically rained upon with calls to repent and imprecations. And due to the catering, we exit the gate more prepared for another week of warfare and delicious dialog.

Exhortation: Human and Divine Liturgy

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In my sermon last week I mentioned that the body in Proverbs is central to the pursuit of wisdom. The Spirit guides the body. It is in our interest to control our bodies, so that we may grow up into all wisdom.

But there is more than this. Controlling the body is not just about what no to do with it, it is also about what to do with it. Paul says that our bodies are living sacrifices unto God. You cannot help but consider the language of sacrifice in the Scriptures, which is the language of worship. Your human body is a symbol of worship. What you do with it in worship is a picture of what you worship. Psalm 138 teaches us this. We bow, we cry out, and we sing. And even Yahweh has a liturgy of his own; a liturgy of salvation according to the psalmist: He stretches out his right hand and saves us. Your bodies are living sacrifices to God, so use it this morning: confess, sing, respond, and in the end, receive God’s service to you when He stretches out his right hand and delivers you. Amen.

Forgiveness of Sins!

Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone; a new life has begun. Know that you are forgiven and be at peace!

Children in Worship

We, in the CRE, are certainly in the minority when considering the question of children in worship. With children’s church curriculum abounding in typical evangelical and presbyterian churches, our message seems to be only a drop in the vast ocean of paedo-church’dom. Yet, the CREC has been consistent in rejecting popular trends. We are not large, but our message resonates with many.

We are a family-friendly church, but we are primarily a church-friendly family. Our children are with us throughout our Lord’s Day worship. They are not dismissed before the sermon, they are made for the sermon (for as such is the kingdom of God). They move a little, while uttering heavenly language; then they take mommy’s bulletin and sing along as joyfully as the big boys in front. They cannot say supra-lapsarianism, but they can express more joy than than most. After the Lord’s Supper, they are the first ones to stand and their arms stretch out high as the Gloria Patri is sung. They, the least in our midst, are more precious than gold. They enliven our liturgy; they are most God-like at times. Yes, we keep them with us, because they belong with us; they are part of us…the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church of infants and old.

Closing Hymns/Psalms

One of the main issues I face every week in preparing hymns and psalms for Providence Church is what hymn/psalm is most suitable for closing the service. The Cantus Christi provides several beautiful tunes with richly adorned theological lyrics, and an entire first section with Psalm selections.

But choosing a final hymn/psalm is not always easy. I ask these three questions before coming to a conclusion:

a) Is this hymn/psalm in any way connected to one of the lessons read or expounded during the service?

b) Is this a hymn/psalm that we have already mastered? This question is crucial because certain hymns/psalms can be relatively new to the congregation, but it is reasonable to sing it during one of the earlier portions of the CRW (Call, Confession, or Consecration), but the final hymn/psalm needs to be familiar enough, so it can be sung triumphantly.

c) The final question carries the weight of the second point, and that is, a final hymn/psalm needs to be joyful. It follows the Commission. The gathered army of God goes out with the Son of God to war. Thus, slow paced, Lenten-style hymns are inappropriate on the Lord’s Day, even if it is the Lenten Season.

Rayburn on the sufficiency of worship…

No Christian should come to God’s house thinking anything else but that everything necessary for life and for happiness and for satisfaction and for fruitfulness is given to him or her in this worship service.